18 minute 5k Training Plan

Target Race Pace: 5:45 per mile for an 18 minute 5k

To consider following this 18 minute 5k plan you should already be able to run at a target race pace of 5:45 for at least a mile (3:35 p/km) and/or have a PB under 20 minutes.

If you are not quite there yet then take a look at the sub 20 minute 5k training plan instead and then come back to this one once you are in a position to run at this pace.

Other 5k training plans: 16 minute 5k || 18 minute 5k || Sub 20 5k || 22 minute 5k || 24 minute 5k || 26 minute 5k || 28 minute 5k || Sub 30 minute 5k || Couch to 5k Training Plan

Please read before starting a training plan:
Frequently Asked Questions | Signs of Overtraining

Your Speed/Distance Training Zones: 18 minute 5k

Pace per Mile/ KmTreadmill Pace400m / 800m Splits5km Race Pace
05:45 / 03:3510.4 mph / 16.6 km/h86s / 2:5217min 55s
*for speed/distance conversation allow for a small amount of rounding up/ down.

Your 18 minute 5k Training Plan

DayWeek 1Week 2Week 3Rec. Week
Monday30mins easy30mins easyHill Sprints
Rest/ Cross-train
[email protected]:35 per km / 90s 5:45p/m (90sec rec.)
[email protected] per 400m/ 5:35p/m (60s rec.)
[email protected]:35 per km / 90s 5:45p/m (90sec rec.)
Rest/ Cross-train
Wednesday30mins easy30mins easy30mins easyTempo Run
to include 3miles @6:00 p/m
[email protected]:49 per 800m /5:40p/m (200m jog rec.)
Kenyan Hiills
Rest/ Cross-train
FridayRest/ Cross-trainRestRest/ Cross-train30mins easy
Saturday30mins easy6x800m
[email protected]:49 per 800m /5:40p/m (200m jog rec.)
30mins easyRest/ Cross-train
SundayLong runLong runLong runRest/ Cross-train

18 Minute 5k Training Plan Components

Breakeven Sessions – 18 minute 5k training plan

These sessions are used for maintaining fitness & recovery. Preparing you for breakthrough sessions:

  • Steady/ Easy Run – this run should be according to how you feel, don't worry about the time, make sure it's no quicker than 07:45 p/m. Concentrate on recovery and form.
  • Long Run – slow & steady run, this should be less than 1 hours work.
  • Fartlek – unstructured training. Example Fartlek sessions.

Breakthrough Sessions – 18 minute 5k training plan

These sessions are meant to be challenging intense efforts, treat them as mini-milestones towards your target:

  • 400m Reps – these need to be at 5:35 p/m pace (84s per lap) with a 60sec standing recovery.
  • 800m Reps – should be reps at 5:40p/m pace (2:49 per 800m) with a 200m jogged recovery.
  • 1km Intervals – hit 5:45p/m pace (3:35 per km) with a 90sec jogged recovery.
  • Hills: Kenyans/ Hill Sprints – alternate between Kenyans and Hill Sprints to get a balance of power and endurance training. Example Hill Training Sessions.

About this Plan

Remember that to even consider following this 18 minute 5k plan you should already be able to run at a target race pace of 5:45 for at least a mile (3:35 p/km) and/or have a PB under 20 minutes.

The core work for the 18 minute 5k training plan is set over a 3-week period with the addition of 1 week's recovery. At the end of the first 4-week cycle you can repeat and/or tailor the plan to your individual needs to focus on your particular 5k event.

It is recommended that after three months following the 18 minute 5k plan that you reduce your training for a period of one to two weeks to allow your body time to recover from the impact of running. This should mean more time cross-training with a couple of nice easy runs every few days to keep the legs ticking over.

198 Responses

  1. Spencer Easterbrook says:

    I am a15 years old sophomore and my 3 mile pr is 17:17 in September of this year. What time should I be trying to break in a 5k since ive been training a lot harder now.

  2. Stephen says:

    I was running sub 18s in my mid/late 20’s with little commitment to training. Started running again 6 weeks ago after a 15 year hiatus. ……. Now doing a very embarrassing 27min.

  3. Anonymous says:


  4. Dane says:

    Hello really like the look of this plan. I haven’t followed any kind of running plans since my cross country days and in those days I just shut up and did what the coach said without knowing the reasoning.

    My goal is sub 18:00 5km. I am wondering about the long runs. In it you say they should be “no more than 1 hour” is there a big negative impact I will find by going 2 hour runs on the long run day?

    The reason being is I really want to keep my volume high for marathons. I off the couched a 3:58 marathon this year with 2 10km runs under my belt and avg weekly mileage of about 10km. My joints screamed bloody murder but it was a fun experience. Looking to continue with the odd marathon here and there but am more interested in building a faster base currently then pursuing full marathon training plans (they’re boring). So can I do this 5km plan and throw in a once a week 15-30km run? That way I keep my mileage up for marathons and the long runs are my way to explore all the cool trails in my area

  5. Geo Chamberlain says:

    Hi Matt, love the look to this plan – variety and tempo. Can I do this on a treadmill? And if so, what incline do you suggest? Thank you!

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